Effect of cooking time and ingredients on bioactive compounds

Cooking is the process of providing heat to a food to make it more palatable, edible, and digestible. In addition, food ceases to pose a microbiological risk to those who eat it and also increases the bioavailability of nutrients. During cooking, a series of physical and chemical transformations take place; some of them are positive as they confer flavor and nutrients and some negative reactions like the production of toxic compounds and the loss of vitamins.

Culinary techniques have been essential for human evolution, as they decrease the energy cost of digestion and provide more energy to other parts of the human body. Currently, several studies have focused on evaluating how culinary techniques impact food and how cooked food can impact our diet and health.

Our studies

In our group we have carried out studies with tomato sauces, where we have found an increase in polyphenols during the cooking time due to the release of these compounds from the cellular environment. In addition, the process of isomerization of carotenoids during cooking has been observed, giving rise to more bioavailable structures and that the presence of olive oil in the preparation facilitates the absorption of these compounds in the body.

Currently, we are still evaluating the effects of cooking on tomato sauce, a key element of the Mediterranean Diet. We have seen that sofrito, with the presence of olive oil and onion, aids in the production of carotenoid isomers and keeps them stable during longer cooking times.

Recently, the group has started a study on the effects of different culinary techniques on olive oil polyphenols and how different food matrices can impact polyphenol content.